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Policy Talk | Bihar is effective in battling second wave of Covid-19: Health Minister Mangal Pandey

Bihar’s positivity rate is 2% which is considerably lower than the national positivity rate of 9%, Bihar’s Health Minister said in an interview with Moneycontrol.com.

June 03, 2021 / 01:30 PM IST


The number of Covid-19 cases in Bihar came down to 1,475 on Sunday from a whopping number of over 14,000 cases at the beginning of May. Bihar’s Health Minister, Mangal Pandey claims that Bihar has fared better than many other states in containing the Covid-19 cases. 

 

Almost 4900 people have died in Bihar due to Covid-19 and currently the state has over 28,000 active cases. Pandey said that Bihar’s recovery rate is 95% as compared to that of the national recovery rate of 91%. He believes that Bihar is effective in battling the pandemic due to the high number of tests being conducted. 

 

“We have conducted over 2.94 crore tests so far and are testing around 1.29 lakh people daily, which makes us the state with the third highest testing numbers,” he said.

 

However, the number of RT-PCR tests in Bihar are far lower than rapid antigen tests, which Pandey attributed to lack of infrastructure in the state. 

“Around 90,000 rapid antigen tests are being conducted daily, while the number of RT-PCR tests is 35,000 across 20 labs in the state,” he said.

 

A major concern being raised by experts is that poor infrastructure in rural areas might make it difficult to contain the cases. Pandey claims that the government is actively working at resolving the issue.

 

“Bihar has 88 percent of the population living in villages and the rural areas contribute about 60 percent in total Covid-19 cases. The Bihar government is working with a holistic approach to address the issues related to Covid-19 in rural areas and urban areas as well,” Pandey said. 

 

While discussing the situation of health infrastructure, Pandey said that Bihar is equipped with 1,150 ventilators in government hospitals and 500 in private hospitals, but there’s a dearth of doctors in the state. 3,706 posts of specialist doctors and 2,632 posts of general medicine doctors are vacant in the state. 

“There are inadequate medical colleges in the country and this is resulting in vacant posts of doctors,” he said.

 

Every year India produces around 48,400 MBBS graduates. Pandey said that the vacancies are for post graduate and specialist doctors and the government is making efforts to fill in the infrastructural gaps. 

 
“To address the infrastructure and other issues of the health sector in Bihar, the state government has increased its health budget to Rs. 13,200 crore for the year 2021-22 in comparison to Rs. 10,900 for 2020-21,” he said.
K Yatish Rajawat is a public policy expert and the CEO of Center for Innovation in Public Policy

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